Anna Wehr ’17 pulled from all of her talents and passions to produce a stage show for her senior project this spring.
As a theatre major with a performance emphasis, Anna wrote, directed, produced, and performed in The Great American Songbook, a cabaret-style performance of songs from American musicals by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and more. More than just create a show, she also drew connections between the performance and her research and made the project her thesis for the Westover Honors Program. “It was a great way to meld all my education into one event,” Anna said. “The theatre program and the Westover Honors Program had a large influence on my college career.”
Anna’s childhood experiences on stage inspired her to study theatre in at Lynchburg and pursue the field for a career. When it was time to work on her senior project and thesis, she decided to create a show that exhibited all the conventions of a musical. But as she selected songs and crafted dialogue to connect them, the theme shifted to the way that love is expressed in musicals.
“Producing a performance like this was challenging, but extremely enjoyable,” said Anna. The cast of 10 performed the show at the end of March. Looking back, she said the process was a valuable way to cap off her education. “It was the best learning experience I have had at the college because I was fully immersed in the areas of directing and producing, which I had never been before.” Anna said. “There are a few things I would have changed such as having more music rehearsals and completing the script earlier in the process, but I’m sure most directors and producers feel this way. Once you learn the logistics there is room to refine the process.”
The faculty and other students in the theatre department proved invaluable to Anna as she learned about writing, acting, and directing at the same time. “No matter the task, people were always willing to help. I am excited to grow my arts community as I move on from University of Lynchburg, and I know I can always rely on those I have met along the way for support and assistance.”
Working on such an all-encompassing project at the end of her senior year gave Anna the chance to experience theatre in a new way. It also confirmed that she will love her career in theatre and arts management, which is starting right away. Anna graduated on Saturday, and she already has a job as managing director of the Virginia Theatre Association. “After this experience, I knew for sure that I belong in the theatre. It is where I thrive and feel most confident.”